NAIROBI – A meeting of the national and county governments convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi on Wednesday agreed on a raft of Covid-19 response measures to be put in place ahead of the gradual re-opening of the country’s economy.
The measures which are aimed at safeguarding Kenyans against the adverse health and socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19 include the attainment of a national 30,500 isolation bed capacity within one month.
The third extra-ordinary session of the national and county governments co-ordination summit set the target of 300 isolation beds for each county so as to deal with the rising cases of infections, currently in 35 of the country’s 47 counties.
In addition to raising the isolation bed capacity, the meeting which was also attended by Deputy President Dr William Ruto tasked county governments to review their fiscal and strategic plans for the 2020 to 2021 financial year to include Covid-19 prevention and control measures.
To address the growing public pressure to re-open places of worship including churches and mosques, the summit agreed to involve the Council Governors in the ongoing consultations being undertaken by an inter-faith council.
So as to ensure the smooth reopening of schools and other institutions of learning, the summit agreed to involve the Council of Governors in the ongoing education sector stakeholder consultations.
The consultations led by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha will lead to the issuance of a new school calendar in line with the recent Presidential directive to re-open schools in September this year.
To keep track of today’s resolutions, the summit resolved to reconvene on Wednesday next week to among other matters, review: guidelines for the gradual re-opening of the economy; containment measures currently in place; and protocols for the progressive re-opening of places of worship.
In his remarks, President Kenyatta urged the two levels of government to work very closely with each other so as to find proper solutions to the Covid-19 economic and health crisis.
The President said the framers of the 2010 Constitution understood the desire for Kenyans to have proper and well-equipped health services closer to them and that’s why they decided to devolve healthcare.
However, the Head of State pointed out that the same drafters of the constitution were aware that as a country, in times of crisis, the two levels of government would need to sit down and come up with solutions for emergencies such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When this summit sits, its only business is Kenya. No party affiliations; no political distancing; and no ethnic divisionism. The summit becomes the soul of Kenya. That is why the pronouncements of this gathering, whenever we meet, become articles of our faith in ‘Project Kenya’,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the Covid-19 health crisis offers the best opportunity for the improvement of healthcare in the country. “This opportunity is also a blessing in disguise. We must embrace it and grow it. If we fight Coronavirus from the ground up; from the County up to the National levels, we cannot fail. We will succeed,” the President said.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe applauded Governors for working closely with his ministry in the fight against Covid-19, saying cooperation is key in ensuring the country succeeds in dealing with the health crisis.
Mr Kagwe urged the County bosses to emulate Machakos County which he said has commissioned Jua Kali artisans to fabricate Covid-19 isolation beds.
“The Ministry of Health will continue to work very closely with County Governments so as to ensure we have win-win outcomes in every part of the country,” CS Mutahi said.
Treasury CS Ukur Yattani said his ministry was in the process of assessing the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the economy.
In his technical briefing, acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth said community preparedness is crucial in defeating Covid-19.
“Homecare as prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO) is the way to go now so as to ease the strain of the rising infections on our health facilities.
“WHO has provided guidelines on how to go about it (homecare), that we are translating into Swahili so as to ensure Mwananchi understands what is required of them,” Dr Amoth said.